Community Wildfire Protection Plans
A Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) is a plan developed at the community level in areas at-risk of wildfire. They are created in collaboration with community members, fire agencies operating in the area, local government, and other interested stakeholders.
A CWPP has two main functions. First, to identify and prioritize fuel reduction treatments needed in the local area and outline methods for addressing these. And second, to make recommendations for measures that reduce structural ignitability. The process of developing a CWPP can help a community identify and clarify priorities for the protection of life, property, and critical infrastructure in the wildland-urban interface (WUI). It is intended to be a living document and updates are expected as the needs in a community change and evolve.
CWPP background: The Healthy Forests Restoration Act, a landmark legislation which includes the first meaningful statutory incentive for the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to give consideration to prioritized fuel reduction projects identified by local communities, was enacted in 2003. This lead to the development of the CWPP as a community-based forest planning and fuel reduction prioritization document. The Healthy Forests Restoration Act and the Community Wildfire Protection Plan emphasize the need for federal, state, and local agencies to work collaboratively with communities in developing hazardous fuel reduction projects and place priority on treatment areas identified by the communities themselves in a CWPP.
CWPPs in San Diego County: Thirty-five communities around San Diego County have an approved CWPP in place – click on the community name below to read their CWPP. The map on the right shows each fire safe council in San Diego County. Most with CWPPs are linked within the map, too.
The role of CWPPs: The Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003 provides communities with a great opportunity to influence where and how agencies implement fuel reduction projects on federal or private lands, as well as how additional federal funds may be distributed for projects on non-federal lands. A CWPP is the most effective way to take advantage of this opportunity.
The benefits of a CWPP: These documents and the measures they recommend can help enhance safety and reduce risk of damage to structures and watersheds. Creating a CWPP can mobilize your community to take action to protect lives, property, structures, and community livelihoods. In addition, communities with a CWPP are given priority for certain funds for hazardous fuel reduction projects.
How to form a CWPP: The process begins with a community organization such as a Fire Safe Council or Community Planning Group. Collaboration with federal, state, and local fire jurisdictions as well as local stakeholders is essential. The FSCSDC provides a template and step-by-step completion guide to facilitate the creation of CWPPs. We also hold an annual workshop to review the process for creating or updating a CWPP.
- California Fire Safe Council has several guides and resources linked on their website at: https://cafiresafecouncil.org/resources/community-wildfire-protection-plans/
- The International Fire Chiefs Association released their guide to help develop and implement a Community Wildfire Preparedness Plan in communities and across the country. It has a local community level approach to include code, development review, ordinances and local authority, and is used by leaders in the Fire Service, including subject matter experts, and local, state, and federal officials. Click here to download the guide.
- The Forest And Rangelands website provides more information about the importance of CWPPs, as well as a CWPP handbook to download: https://www.forestsandrangelands.gov/communities/cwpp.shtml
- FEMA has a best practices for creating a CWPP document on their website here: https://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/creating_a_cwpp.pdf